To Bless Those Deserving
I did own dresses. I mean, I was a lady. Had no desire to dress like a man, but I also did not want to appear as some delicate flower. My Great-aunt Dirchein would fuss at me stating that the dresses that I wore did not truly represent my status. While divine champion was a little vague on the social hierarchy, I was the granddaughter of a king and empress with a baron and baroness as my great-uncle and great-aunt. My father owned a large corporation. I had aunts that were a duchess, a queen, and a baroness. My uncle was also associated with a deity, and I enjoyed spending time with him. I thus could claim whatever rank of social status I desired. I however simply went to meals to eat, and really did not care about any politics. I would wear a dress, but all that stated was that I was a lady.
Some thought it strange that I did not put much faith in armor. While I had a wonderful suit of crystal to protect my body, I actually wore it because I liked it and it stated that I was associated with fighting. The fact that it would protect my body I considered to be a distraction. My grandfather did all his grand feats without wearing armor, and my great-uncle agreed that he usually did only because of his connection to a fighting spirit. If someone wanted to be deadly, they would aim for those parts not protected. I thus put my faith in proving any opponents wrong to think that harming any part of me would impair me.
Usually, I would go out to some courtyard and spar with the soldiers or simply perform katas with and without my weapons. I however felt that doing so here would have me start on a massive killing spree. While I thought such would be done eventually, I decided it best if some meeting with Ubremander occurred first. I thus checked over my weapons while allowing my slaves to prepare for a bath and change of attire.
I did speak with my slaves concerning things. Filly was informed of a couple of options I felt would work with her, then Maney was assured that I would work to find a place for her after the dryad was restored to a life. Neither were an entity that dealt well with the divine, so they did not pester me about serving me in a personal capacity. They were actually relieved that I planned on doing something with them other than destroy them. I let my slaves know that I had no issues with separate manifestations of life, and they showed gratitude even as I admitted that I would put my own causes before them.
One might be surprised that I took a nap. I was not a light sleeper, but actually I felt myself more susceptible to distractions while awake. One advantage of being a divine champion was that I had a relationship with someone much more aware of things. The only problem was having my mind clear enough to hear Fergush. When asleep I however did not have the immediate concerns of life distracting me, so could be contacted a lot better. Thus, after a bath and change of clothes, I relaxed and allowed myself to nap.
I woke up knowing who was at my door. Pishau announced Steve I believe simply as a sign that she was willing to serve me, as I had told her who had knocked. Seeing the man well dressed had me wonder about him even as he asked about myself.
"Jelnaya, are you expecting things to go well?"
I replied, "No, but I am not expecting to be the cause. This dress could end up being burned because there is blood splattered on it, but I assure you that it would not be my first one."
"It's – well, pretty."
"That could be taken as an insult."
"Uh, well, how does Fergush like having you appear this way?"
Steve's smile grew as I began turning and showing him where various blades were stashed about my body. While I did not have my sword, I let him know that I would be carrying the drahaberd. I however believed that his smile was simply in seeing me twist and move.
He said, "Okay, Jelnaya, I will accept that you will be your usual dangerous self. Now, any consideration that we might need to take on behalf of Doris?"
I replied, "She has been doing wonderful up to now. Of course, you and I know when to step in, but she has allowed us to step in. If Doris begins to be a problem, I am going to suspect something other than Doris as the cause."
As I moved to the door, I patted Steve on the chest while saying, "You look pretty good as well."
"I'm a lawyer, Jelnaya. I need to look good in a suit. You're the one out of costume."
"Not according to some of my relatives. According to some, a woman is always supposed to dress her best. When I visit a lot of homes I am expected to dress better than this."
Steve moved to open the door as he said, "You're a very attractive lady, Jelnaya. I cannot believe that you do not have men chasing after you."
"That is how I lose most of them, they have to chase me."
"That I will believe. Still, in the worlds that you move around there should be plenty of men in shape enough to give chase. It is in worlds like mine where young men can do all their activities while sitting down."
"Yes, but worlds like I frequent the men know that monsters are real, and that in following me they are going to have face them. Still, Grandfather Terish found Grandmother Straekin, and Great-uncle Ferrigote found Great-aunt Dirchein. I thus have hope that one day I will find someone as well."
I stepped out, and Steve closed the door while saying, "If Balerk complains about me continuing to ask about you, how about you putting him in his place for me?"
"Deal, but I get to do the same about you. You make sure that your nurse is warned about me."
"I warned her before I left on this mission, Jelnaya. Now, let us get to work."
I felt it good that Doris looked better than me, but she complained about wishing she had known how I would dress. I replied that I had chosen a dress that I would not mind ruining with splatters of blood. She calmly replied that she hoped it would not come to that. Doris however then mentioned that her clothes came from Loranda, and I simply laughed when she complained about not wanting to ruin them.
The elder man we had met earlier came down the hallway, then bowed before asking that we follow him. Steve told me to take the lead, then he would move with Doris. I did as he directed, but used my place near the elder man to speak to him about Ubremander and the land.
He said, “The land was failing. Some horrible storms had almost wiped out the civilization. In desperation the rulers sought some help by those who could restore the land. Ubremander has indeed done that.”
“Wait,” I demanded. “Did the rulers go to Ubremander?”
“Oh.” I suddenly felt that I understood some things, but not wanting to speak of my suspicions only had me ask, “Did you hear that Steve?”
“I am definitely interested in facts of the background of our situation, Dame Jelnaya.”
It did not surprise me to hear a non-committal answer from the lawyer, but I had wished for him to at least drop an innuendo of how much he understood. I did consider another ploy to get Steve to say something substantial. It was knowing that our strategy would not change that kept me silent. Whatever the background facts were, our complaints were against Ubremander. Being the lawyer, Steve needed to keep his focus on resolving the situation with Doris.
Music was already playing as we reached the main floor and were directed toward a large room. Servants came from the sides of the large corridor to offer us refreshments. I complained about them thinking we were so weak that we would get fatigued simply moving to the dining room. Hearing Doris say that she would wait until seated, the elder man made a motion with his hands that had the servants fall behind us. Entering a large room, I saw only a few tables set for dining, although a couple were long ones, while dancers were already at work attempting to fill the empty space with their movements.
I saw a raised dais beyond an open section where even the dancers did not intrude. A mostly white throne sat on the raised platform. The seat was not painted, but I could not determine if it was a highly polished white stone or a type of ice somehow kept from melting. The sharp, rough texture had me concluding the latter. I watched as the dancers kept their distance from the dais and wondered about what my final impression of Ubremander would be.
The music changed, the dancers bowed or curtsied, then there was a sign of marching shoes behind us. I turned to see those gathered earlier now making the procession they probably wanted to perform earlier. I only watched them for a moment, then turned back to study things about the dais. I however was distracted by noticing a sign from Doris and hearing her speak of something other than those marching in.
“Can Ubremander be human? That throne does not appear comfortable.”
I cheerfully replied, “I can almost assure you that he is not human. Still, I am also wondering if he is going to have someone put a pillow in that chair before he sits down.” I paused, but could not stop myself from adding, “A white pillow. Hey, Steve, you need to bring up the point if he has a pillow for his seat about us being forced to find comfort on the old, used cushions from some of his slaves rowing our craft.”
He said, “A good point, Jelnaya. I will keep that in mind.”
“Ooh,” Doris commented, “that is a wonderful point.”
“He might not come out and use a pillow. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves.”
I asked, “Want to put money on it?”
“Jelnaya, allow me to keep my focus. There are a number of things that could or could not work to our advantage. It is in Doris’ best interest if I stay alert to all of them and not focus on one.”
We all turned as the lady introduced earlier as Snenara screamed at another lady for stepping wrong. It seemed that there was a certain method of taking a seat, and the lady had not gone through all the motions before sitting down. I considered it a little much when Snenara repeated the procedure a couple of times in a strident lecture on how things were to be done.
Steve said, “Like that.”
Snenara turned to us to begin apologizing for the disruption. Honestly, I could not care less. I also did not feel it my place to be polite. I did the only thing I felt appropriate, which was to stay quiet. When I turned back, I however found Doris looking to me while asking a question.
“Does your family get all upset about things like that? Mine will at times. There are certain traditions from our heritage, and a few more from the military and police training, that my parents will get all upset about if they are not done properly.”
I answered, “No. My family is so diverse that they will simply compare what you are doing to something they witnessed someone else doing. Even our gods that do require certain rites are not really exacting about them. As long as you do them willingly, I mean with the proper attitude, they are slightly forgiving of the steps.”
Steve whispered my name, and I turned to see Snerara coming to us. Doris did glance, but returned her eyes to the table and picked up her glass as if hoping that it would suddenly fill with something. I simply watched Snerara approach wondering what she would speak about.
She curtsied as she said, “I am sorry that you had to see that.”
“Wouldn’t have,” I replied, “except that you made a scene of it. What happens next? Another dance, or do we get served something?”
“A short drama, then the first course will be served.”
“I wonder how wise Ubremander is for missing it.”
She seemed shocked, or angered, at what I said. “Well, you will be allowed to state your opinion of things later.”
I could not help but laugh at that. Steve tried to keep a serious expression, but I felt he hid a smile. Snerara however simply turned and headed back to one of the smaller tables. That surprised me, as the tirade had happened at one of the long tables. I could not help but be suspicious of things as she headed to a table like ours that had a position away from where the lady who made the misstep was now sitting.
And Ubremander finally shows up.